Researchers at NYU Langone Health have developed a wearable detector glove that allows them to image a moving hand in an MRI scanner. The glove allows for high-quality images of moving joints, whereby tendons and ligaments can be seen moving in relation to bones and muscle, and could be useful in helping to guide surgery. The capability should aid in the design of prostheses and for diagnosing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
MRI is a hugely powerful imaging technique. However, it can typically only image motionless objects, meaning that the soft tissue dynamics of moving joints are out of grasp. Part of the problem is the detector coils in an MRI scanner, which must be fixed in place so that they don’t interfere with each other, but this also means that they can’t image moving objects.
To address this issue, this research group designed a different type of MRI detector, which can be worn like a glove. Traditionally, MRI detectors are “low impedance” structures, meaning that they allow electrical current to pass through them easily. The new detectors are “high impedance” structures, meaning that they block current, and the researchers then measure the “force” of the magnetic waves as they attempt to establish a current in the detectors.
This means that the detectors do not need to be fixed in place as they no longer interfere with each other. The resulting images of moving muscles, ligaments and tendons in hands playing the piano, or grasping an object, are striking.
The images allowed the researchers to observe how ligaments and tendons, which have been difficult to image, move in conjunction with bones and muscles. This could provide insights into the differences in tendons and ligaments in cases of injury.
“Our results represent the first demonstration of an MRI technology that is both flexible and sensitive enough to capture the complexity of soft-tissue mechanics in the hand,” said Bei Zhang, a researcher involved in the study. “We hope that this result ushers in a new era of MRI design, perhaps including flexible sleeve arrays around injured knees, or comfy beanies to study the developing brains of newborns.”
Study in Nature Biomedical Engineering: A high-impedance detector-array glove for magnetic resonance imaging of the hand…
Via: NYU Langone Health…